One doesn’t quite know what to expect when interviewing irreverent comic Tom Green. This is the man who, at the recent Blockbuster Awards, threw vegetables at the audience; the man who, in his new film, the very weird Freddy Got Fingered, has his character, wrapped up in the bloody carcass of a dead deer.
Who is this strange comic whose cult following is astonishing? After all, outside of the United States, his claims to fame are small roles in Road Trip and Charlie’s Angels. Not to mention his possible marriage to one Drew Barrymore. Ah yes, Mr Green now has the wedding ring to prove that at least on the marriage front, he is dead serious. At least we think he is. The pair has been deliberately lying about their marriage plans for several months, partly as a game to amuse themselves and partly as a tactic to get the media out of their private lives, Green admitted. But now they have actually done the deed, in strict privacy, within the last week, probably, Green said. “I can say that we went on a trip and did it very small, just the two of us.” And he has the ring to prove it. “Cool huh?”
Green, 29, refused to divulge any details, other than saying the ceremony did not occur in Los Angeles, where he and Barrymore live together in a temporary abode after their house burned down recently; or in Las Vegas or in Ottawa, Green’s home town. The deliberate lies of the past.the two announced plans for a Cleveland ceremony and staged a phoney marriage set-up and fall-apart on Saturday Night Live.have made people sceptical now, Green said. “I’m pretty proud of that. It’s pretty cool. So it is somewhat expected and funny that, when we actually went and did it for real, that no one believes us. Certainly, one of the reasons we were joking around with it at the beginning was because we were able to slip out and do it now. We did really want to keep it private, just do it for ourselves and not splash pictures of it all over the place.”
Asked why he likes to make up stuff about himself, Green turned thoughtful and struggled with the idea. “You know,” he said after a pause, “I’m being serious now in answering the question about how I always lie about these kinds of questions. But I’ve had fun on my television show (The Tom Green Show on MTV) with playing around with the media, like when I brought Monica Lewinsky up to my home town and had the local press chase us around. So I find that somewhat interesting and fun and I think everyone finds it fun. I don’t think anyone ever gets angry. They often know that I’m lying.”
In real life, the Canadian native is the antithesis of the wild image he projects on screen. Quiet, shy, thoughtful and even nervous at doing press for his new film, Green takes what he does very seriously. Like his movie Freddy Got Fingered, which he also directed and co-wrote. In this oddball comedy, Green plays Gord, a young man in his late twenties who infuriates his father by refusing to move out of the house and get a job (like his younger brother Freddy), provoking an all-out war between father and son, while Gord dreams of being a famous TV animator.
This childlike character, which takes naivety to extremes, was not entirely based on Green’s own life, he wants it made known when asked where this character comes from. “It’s more based on what happens when a lot of young people today are maybe trying to do things that their parents don’t necessarily understand or ‘get’. ” Such as with Green’s own aspirations. “I wanted to do a TV show for example, but my father wanted me to work in a real job. So the frustration that this character has, is based on that, and is happening a lot more today.” While the character has a very simplistic nature, Green almost crosses the line as to how far he can go, what with dead carcasses and babies being swung over one’s head at one point, Green admits that he had to be careful where to cross that line in the name of comedy. “I think the line is running along between mean-spirited and goofily non-mean spirited. You can be edgy and push something up to that line, but as long as there’s no sort of permanent damage to the baby, in that scene for instance, that’s fine.”
Hollywood has now generated a sub-genre of movie comedy, the so-called Gross Out comedies that began with Something About Mary. But Green seems to have taken that several degrees higher. Even the title, which actually refers to child molestation, can be seen as risky, and scenes featuring Green’s character biting off an umbilical chord, may be seen in some quarters as bordering on bad taste. Green refutes the notion that his film takes gross to a new level. “I don’t really like to think of this a gross-out comedy, a term that’s been loosely kicked around in the past few years, because I think it kinda puts a weird label on the movie. I’m sure there’s stuff in it that might be a little bit bloody or liquidy, but there’s actually no poo or pee in the movie, which I’m quite proud of,” he exclaims dryly. But there is a bit of animal sperm and blood to compensate. “Yeah, there’s a bit of those things, but I think when you start talking in terms of gross-out, it kinda labels it as a teen comedy, which I don’t think it is.” In fact, Green tries hard in this movie to go further than teen movies would ever allow, “so in certain scenes I really wanted to push the envelope as far as I could.”
Apart from his recent marriage, Green’s also had to contend with testicular cancer. While he avoids taking life too seriously, the cancer was another story. “It’s been a pretty crazy year for sure for me because of all the cancer and stuff,” Green said. “I definitely jumped into this movie right after I was sick. It’s probably affected my overall feeling about life, positively. I think you can deal with things like that (the house fire or any such calamity) better because you have got through a crazy ordeal.”
Perhaps, even with all the extreme moments in his movie, Green’s tale of an innocent young man coping with life’s often extreme pitfalls, may not be far off the mark. At least, he muses, he can share it all with his new wife. That is, if you believe everything Mr Green tells you.